Each spring Gonzaga University clubs partake in elections for the upcoming school year. Now, however, COVID-19 has set many obstacles for club officers that will likely result in setbacks within the 2020-2021 academic year club schedules.

The Center for Student Involvement is offering online resources for clubs to ensure an easy transition, said Joey Sammut, associate director for the Center for Student Involvement. Being off campus, clubs can run their elections online through Zagtivities.

“This feature has always been possible, but most clubs opted and preferred to run elections in person,” Sammut said. “On their elections page, clubs can create ballots for specific positions, set election start and end dates/times, and restrict the voting to only members on their club Zagtivities roster.”

Clubs have the ability to utilize online tools like Qualtrics, an experience management software, to gauge the direction of the election through student surveys. Qualtrics, along with Zoom, is another source that will allow clubs to hold live elections with participating students.

Courtney Smith, president of Gonzaga Freeride Club, said the club will be switching to a digital campaign plan to allow for more flexibility for those interested in applying in light of current circumstances.

“The Freeride Club is doing everything digitally now and giving more people time to apply and communicate with us as this is a chaotic time,” Smith said.

She said that in the past, the Freeride Club held in-person interviews with applicants. Now, these interviews are being held through Zoom. Discussions concerning applicants between current officers, returning, nonreturning and graduating members will be facilitated through Zoom as well.

Freeride Club officers are avidly promoting the election opportunity to those interested. Officers hope that students interested in applying will not be discouraged by these changes.

On their Instagram page, the club is utilizing the Instagram story feature in addition to frequent posts to promote the application process and keep in touch with students.

“We are sending out multiple emails with the officer application encouraging people to apply and assuring them they can have extended time with the application if needed as we know they may be juggling many stresses,” Smith said.

Looking forward, this year’s spring elections may prompt some setbacks in tentative fall semester club schedules. The Center for Student Involvement hopes to alleviate any challenges for student-run clubs.

“I haven't heard of any clubs yet on their plan for online elections, but I assume most clubs are still trying to make sense of how they still enact their missions with the move to online classes,” Sammut said. 

He said the Center for Student Involvement is more than happy to help clubs currently tackling this obstacle in these times of uncertainty.

During the current election, many clubs will be providing information about their election plans via social media, as well as more details on their Zagtivities page.

Natalie Rieth is a staff writer.

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